Have The Imps Dropped a Transfer Hint With Recent Announcement?

Courtesy Graham Burrell

The Imps released the new squad numbers last night, and there was one notable omission that has got fans talking.

Normally, the squad numbers dropping is not a huge deal. Players wear shirts, and it’s not like the Lincoln City number ten is a hallowed shirt – yes some legends have worn it, but then so did Drewe Broughton and Chris Fagan. It’s nice to see if there’s an indication of the manager’s first-team intentions though, but these days what is in a number, really? Liam Bridcutt wears 23, but he’s a definite starter, all day long. It is good to see Chris Maguire get ten, he’s one that should thrive for us, but some players who were allocated a shirt last season have retained it when it isn’t an indication of their position (Max Melbourne at 3 is not a suggestion he’ll play left-back for us).

Credit Graham Burrell

There does seem to be a pattern, the established first-team players get shirts number 1 through 23, with academy graduates being handed 30 upwards. I guess that means any new players coming in don’t have to have a squad number higher than a youngster with little to no first-team experience. There is a big exception to that rule though: the number 22 shirt. Lots of fans picked up on it on social media, because 22 last season was worn by TJ Eyoma.

https://twitter.com/DavidImp1972/status/1422956192276623362

TJ Eyoma has been heavily rumoured to be close to a move to City this summer, and it was even noted he was left out of the Spurs squad last night. Now, I don’t want to wee on anybody’s chips, but Eyoma is currently injured, for ten days or so, and that’s why he’s missed out for Spurs (you might not find that on the internet, but trust me, he is). Players don’t miss games because a transfer is imminent, not always – Teddy Bishop turned out for Ipswich against Bury St Edmunds despite being linked with us, didn’t he? Anthony Scully wasn’t the subject of bids, despite missing a handful of pre-season games. When a player is omitted from a squad, it is sometimes a case of two plus two equaling five or six for some.

But surely, the number 22 shirt being left open is a big fat hint that we’re going to save it for last season’s 22, isn’t it? Maybe, but I’m going to get you pushing those chips to one side in disgust again. If you look at the numbering, we’ve got 1-21 (not 13, for luck reasons), and then we skip to 23, Liam Bridcutt. The thing is, Liam Bridcutt is our 23, that was his number last season, that’s the number he wears. We wouldn’t have allocated him the 22 shirt just because it was available. As the youth players then start at 30, the 22 shirt is naturally where the sequence ends, and instead of being deliberately left vacant, it’s actually where the natural break occurs. Ouch, right?

I’m not saying TJ isn’t coming back, but a vacant squad number and an absence from a pre-season friendly doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. However, as you’ll know from my chat with Michael, he is in for a new defender and it doesn’t take a genius to see we don’t have any right back cover, and could do with someone capable of playing centrally too. That certainly sounds like TJ Eyoma, but only time will tell if it turns out to be prophetic, or wishful thinking on behalf of all Lincoln City fans.

Credit Graham Burrell